(photo credit: AP)
Morris Talansky, the American financier at the center of one of the corruption probes against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was cleared Tuesday of misdemeanor assault charges in a Long Island court.
Talansky, an Orthodox Jew, had faced up to a year in prison if convicted of attacking his longtime dentist, Leonard Barashick, 85, during an argument about missing payments in 2007.
Supervising Judge William O'Brien dismissed the case after a two-day trial, ruling that prosecutors had failed to prove Barashick's claims that Talansky, 76, had smashed a dental chair into his shins.
Two witnesses testified that they saw Barashick charging at Talansky while holding a fishing pole held like a bayonet. Medical records submitted to the court indicated that injuries Barashick claimed were Talansky's fault were actually old wounds.
"I'm grateful to the Almighty and to my defense attorneys," Talansky said as he left the court in Hempstead, Long Island, according to Newsday.
Talansky's attorney, Anthony Colleluori, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday he believed the district attorney chose to prosecute the case to gain publicity.
"They tried the first day to get the Israeli stuff in, on a theory of prior bad acts," Colleluori said. "If they'd pulled off a victory in the case they'd have been able to say they got him."
"My client, he's had enough tsuris," Colleluori added. He said Talansky had lost money in the Bernard Madoff finance scandal and was tending to his ill wife, along with negotiating testimony with Israeli prosecutors.
The assault case was unrelated to the investigation into allegations that Olmert accepted illicit contributions during his stint as Jerusalem mayor and as industry, trade and labor minister.
Talansky has been questioned about financial transfers to Israel totaling approximately $300,000, which were allegedly used to cover Olmert's campaign debts, as well as cash gifts totaling as much as $150,000.
Talansky has said he received nothing in return.
Israeli prosecutors have reportedly offered him partial immunity from potential bribery and money laundering charges in the US in exchange for further testimony.
Talansky's lawyer in that case, Bradley Simon, did not immediately respond to an e-mail request sent by the Post seeking comment.